Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I had a four day weekend, so we took a quick trip to Yogyakarta (usually pronounced Jogjakarta). It was an eight-hour train ride. We didn't see anything on the way down because we left too late in the day, but the morning train back from Jogja was amazing.
At first the train justs flirt with the mountains. You can see them in the distance, behind endless, flat rice paddies, some dry, some wet, tended by farmers in conical hats. You're not sure the train is really going there; you wonder if it's going to skirt them somehow. But then the engine starts to whine and the train begins to shake a little. You begin climbing into jungly-looking forests of palm trees and other deep-green foliage, bisected by little river valleys. Every now and then there's a small farming village. The paddies keep reappearing, terraced into the mountainsides, along with fields of what looked like corn, and other things I didn't recognize. It's beautiful.
It was so nice to see mountains again, like seeing old friends.
We were afraid we'd get hungry on the train, but the first two rules of life in Jakarta held sway:
1. Food is rarely more than a hundred yards away.
2. If you're too tired to walk a hundred yards, the food will come to you.
Which is to say, in addition to the presence of a dining car, there were waiters constantly coming down the aisle with rice, fried eggs, fried chicken, spicy vegetables stewed in coconut milk, coffee, etc. Also, people got on at some of the longer stops, hawking local specialties. We got sold some regrettably stale and bland cookies. Otherwise, I'd say it was pretty much the perfect way to travel.